Applying to Graduate School

If you have made the choice to go to graduate school, give yourself a pat on the back.  A graduate degree takes an extra effort and commitment beyond a bachelor's degree and can come with remarkable extra perks.

Getting accepted into graduate school is not the same as applying for college.  You will need to have copies of your transcripts forwarded to the appropriate office, a satisfactory score on a standardized test and proper letters from professors and colleagues recommending you for to the school.  There will be quite a few similarities between the graduate schools when you get ready to apply.

When you are ready to apply, map out a plan and follow it to the letter.  Numerous people like to mark down long term goals as well as short term goals that are easy to obtain.  This breaks down the whole process into manageable steps and makes it easier to handle. 

Application Process

You should ask the school where you received your bachelor's degree to forward your transcripts to potential graduate programs.  Transcripts are a crucial part of the application and sometimes items get lost by the postal service.  Get this step done early.

The graduate schools will review your GPA as well as the grades you earned in each class.  The classes are reviewed based on their relevance to your intended degree.  If you are applying for a master's degree program in nursing, the “A” you received in microbiology will likely have much more weight than the “A” you received in art class. 

You should find out which graduate exam is appropriate for your major and reserve a test session.  For students currently working on their undergraduate degree most people will take the graduate test in the spring or summer following their junior year.  For those people that have already finished their bachelor's degree taking the test in the summer prior to application for graduate school is adequate. 

If you are still in college it is a good idea to try and bond with a few of your professors.  These are the people responsible for providing the letters of recommendation that help you get accepted into graduate school.  It is advisable to notify your professors several weeks in advance of the deadline for application.  Most professors do not appreciate being rushed to compose a letter that involves their professional reputation.

If some time has passed since you completed your bachelor's degree, or you completed your degree through an online college, you may have questions about who can provide you with a letter of recommendation.  Besides professors, your colleagues as well as employers can provide letters on your behalf.  These people have firsthand knowledge of your work habits and can provide an unbiased opinion of you. 

Most graduate programs will ask you to complete a personal statement.  This is your opportunity to write out an essay describing your brightest achievements and outline your goals. In order to prepare for your personal statement you may want to look over similar essays from previous students and focus on your professional goals in light of some people that have influenced you to attend grad school.  This will show the school why you want this degree and how you arrived at the decision.